The Mysterious Connection Between Anxiety and Inflammation Explained

Do you know how anxiety and inflammation are interrelated?

Many studies indicate that inflammation is the essential cause of most, if not all, chronic disease. We all know that eating packaged, processed, fake foods cause a dramatic increase in inflammation as well as using vegetable and seed oils, trans fats, gluten, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and processed meats. 

However, there’s another cause for destructive inflammation that you have ignored completely: Anxiety.

Dr. David Hanscom posited: “Anxiety is a physiological response to a threat. Your whole body is on fire. You need to decrease anxiety, decrease cytokines, and decrease that stress response. If your body’s inflamed, you’re going to feel anxious.”

Every cell in the body has cytokines. The term “cytokine” is derived from a combination of two Greek words – “cyto” meaning cell and “kinos” meaning movement. Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid inter-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma. By reducing or resolving stress and anxiety, you lower levels of inflammatory cytokines.

Not only does this allow your immune system to function better, but it also relieves pain. We see then how anxiety and inflammation are linked.

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Connection between anxiety and inflammation

As we spoke before, anxiety is a symptom of inflammation. The reverse is also true: Inflammation is a symptom of anxiety and this is very much a vicious cycle, and a difficult one to break. This shouldn’t surprise us because they are directly connected. The way to counter anxiety is through control over yourself. When you lose control, your body secretes more stress hormones, more cytokines, which trigger anger and anxiety. When you’re angry or stressed out, you’re in a constant state of threat. When you’re trapped by anything, especially chronic pain or even trapped in your house due to lockdowns, you’re frustrated, which increases your inflammatory cytokines.

However, while there are situations that you cannot control, you can learn to control your response to them.

Easy remedies for anxiety and inflammation

Prayer, meditation, time in nature, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) are all great and effective ways to deal with anxiety and inflammation. Finding which way works best for you will go a long way to helping you not only reduce stress but will also support and improve your immune system as well.

Your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is activated in response to threats, whereas your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) is activated through the relaxation response. The vagus nerve is the connection between the two. There are simple ways to activate your vagus nerve, triggering the relaxation response, such as deep breathing, humming, cold showers, probiotics, practicing EFT, prayer, meditation, intermittent fasting, and expressing gratitude.

Because even in the best of times most people spend their days in a state of constant, chronic stress, the relaxation response, which should kick in after the threat is over, gets stuck. Sympathetic dominance weakens the rest and digest, detox and heal response and many can no longer effectively activate it when they need to. Another thing to keep in mind is how EMFs are affecting all of us. There is definitely a correlation to the vagus nerve.

Since most of our immune system resides in our gut, taking specific steps to keep the digestive system healthy is of primary importance. There’s no disputing that anxiety and inflammation compromise gut function. And this is obviously caused by stress.

If you are chronically stressed, chances are very great that your vagal function is compromised. If you simply take steps to support and improve your vagal tone and intentionally seek ways to reduce anxiety and inflammation, which will help improve your immune function.

For more information, check our article on the benefits of Aromatherapy.

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